British MPs warn over security risks if Turkey joins EU

1st August 2011, Comments 0 comments

British lawmakers expressed concern Monday about the security risks posed by Turkey's accession to the European Union, but said membership should bring long-term benefits to the bloc.

Parliament's home affairs committee warned that if Turkey joined the EU, the union's borders would extend to Syria, Iran and Iraq, "which pose a considerable security risk, including as a source of large numbers of irregular migrants".

It also said Turkish organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking or illegal immigration posed a "substantial threat" to the EU's internal security.

The report said Brussels must apply "a very stringent set of conditions relating to border security, all of which must be clearly and objectively demonstrated to have been met by Turkey prior to accession".

And committee chairman Keith Vaz said that cooperation between enforcement agencies from the EU, Turkey and Greece -- the border between Greece and Turkey is the main entry point for illegal immigrants to the EU -- must improve.

"I am concerned that, if action is not taken now, it will become even easier for migrants from countries such as Afghanistan and Iran to enter the EU once Turkey is a member," he said.

The report also urged caution in allowing Turkish citizens full freedom of movement on membership, saying it may be better to impose limits such as those placed on Bulgaria and Romanian nationals following their accession.

But it stressed that in the long-term, the security risks were "considerably outweighed by the potential benefits" of Turkish membership, which would allow for increased cooperation within EU law enforcement agencies.

And it warned that the willingness of the Turkish authorities to tackle illegal immigration and drug trafficking may disappear if it thinks EU membership is not achievable.

"The Turkish authorities may lose their incentive to prioritise tackling criminality which affects EU member states to a far greater extent than their own population," the report said.

Since its membership talks started in 2005, Turkey has opened negotiations in only 13 of the 35 policy areas that candidates must complete. France and Germany remain opposed to the Muslim-majority nation joining as a full member.

© 2011 AFP

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